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J Clin Exp Neuropsychol. 2012;34(7):773-81. doi: 10.1080/13803395.2012.682974. Epub 2012 May 10.

HIV-infected persons with bipolar disorder are less aware of memory deficits than HIV-infected persons without bipolar disorder.

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  • 1Joint Doctoral Program in Clinical Psychology, San Diego State University/University of California, San Diego, San Diego, CA, USA.


Episodic memory deficits are common in HIV infection and bipolar disorder, but patient insight into such deficits remains unclear. Thirty-four HIV-infected individuals without bipolar disorder (HIV+/BD-) and 47 HIV+ individuals with comorbid bipolar disorder (HIV+/BD+) were administered the Hopkins Verbal Learning Test-Revised and the Brief Visuospatial Memory Test-Revised to examine objective learning/memory functioning. Subjective memory complaints were assessed via the memory subscale of the Patient's Assessment of Own Functioning Inventory. HIV+/BD+ individuals performed poorer on tests of visual learning and visual/verbal recall than did HIV+/BD- participants (ps < .05). Memory complaints only predicted verbal learning (at a trend level, p = .10) and recall (p = .03) among the HIV+/BD- individuals. Memory complaints were not associated with memory performance within the HIV+/BD+ group (ps > .10). Memory complaints were associated with depressive symptoms in both groups (ps < 0.05). These complaints were also predictive of immunosuppression, higher unemployment, and greater dependence on activities of daily living among the HIV+/BD+ individuals (ps < .05). Awareness of memory abilities was particularly poor among HIV+/BD+ individuals (i.e., objective learning/memory did not correspond to reported complaints), which has important implications for the capacity of these individuals to engage in error-monitoring and compensatory strategies in daily life. Memory complaints are associated with depressed mood regardless of group membership. Among HIV+/BD+ individuals, these complaints may also signify worse HIV disease status and problems with everyday functioning. Clinicians and researchers should be cognizant of what these complaints indicate in order to lead treatment most effectively; use of objective neurocognitive assessments may still be warranted when working with these populations.

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